LOGAN — Utah State forward Desmond Penigar may have said a little more than coach Stew Morrill would have liked him to say on Thursday when someone asked him if the Aggies would win the Big West Conference, and he answered affirmatively.

But Cal Poly, Utah State's opponent in the Smith Spectrum at 7 p.m., will have to answer tonight for a statement it made a month ago. When the Mustangs beat USU 61-58 in Mott Gym, Aggie guard Tony Brown said, "They were talking 'Utah State who?' when we'd go to the locker room.

"That's just something everybody's going to remember," said Brown, who's scored 52 points in his last two games, shooting 57 percent, 61 percent on 17 3-pointers. "We're just going to be energized on Saturday night." The revenge factor is there for the Aggies. "Definitely. If there's not, there's something wrong with all of our guys."

USU beat Santa Barbara Thursday to move into a second-place tie in the BWC. The Aggies are 15-4, 7-3, with the first of their league losses coming at Cal Poly Jan. 3. The Mustangs are 12-6, 6-4 after a win at Idaho Thursday.

"We've got to show up and play a very tough Cal Poly team that already got us once," said Brown. "If we don't, we're going to have our hands full. In the back of a lot of our guys' minds, we let one slip away down there."

Thursday, Penigar scored 11 straight second-half points and 18 total in the Ags' 72-64 win over UCSB. "This is a big win for us because we're right in the middle," Penigar said; the Gauchos and Ags had been tied for third place. "We've got to go out and play hard and win the rest of our games. A lot of people, they put us out of it because we lost early (to Cal Poly), and look at it now: We've got a chance to win it. Oh, we're going to win it, yeah," he said.

Brown added, "We're going to need help from everybody else. If we go undefeated the rest of the time, I'm sure we'll win it, but you can't just sit back and say we're going to go undefeated."

The Aggies play at Long Beach and league-leading Irvine next week.


E-mail: lham@desnews.com